Letters to the Editor

Hospital costs, legislative ethics, Chiefs

Updated: 2014-01-09T00:36:32Z

Costly hospital stays

I fell out of a tree about three months ago. I broke four ribs, punctured a lung and had a compression fracture in the middle of my back.

I spent five days in the hospital. The lung healed itself, and doctors missed the fracture in my back.

X-rays and pain medicine were all I got. I got a bill for $102,000! The insurance discount was more than $50,000.

If I would have stayed in a first-class hotel for $250 a day, had 24-hour nurses at $100 an hour and used limo service to get X-rays and doctors visits, I would have spent less than $50,000.

Health insurance is the biggest scam ever in the United States. I had prostate cancer seven years ago and spent four days in the hospital at a cost of $42,000. Insurance paid the hospital $6,200.

Nice discount.

Joe Purcell

Kansas City

Show-Me cash

I read the Jan. 5 article, “The no-limit legislature,” with shame. A system is one small step from outright graft when unlimited and undisclosed money can buy unlimited and undisclosed access.

Instead of honest efforts of reform, the foxes in the General Assembly’s leadership assure us that the hen house is perfectly safe.

Lobbying can benefit the public when it gives legislators expert information about the often-complex responsibilities we rely on them to manage. But it doesn’t take World Series tickets to get a state representative up to speed. Even if it does, we should be able to see who bought the tickets.

Although dirty money can’t be kept out of politics entirely, Missourians should be embarrassed that the Show-Me State has the nation’s most opaque political finance laws.

Phillip Zeeck

Kansas City

Lawmakers’ privilege

As a physician, I read the Jan. 5 article by Jason Hancock, “The no-limit legislature,” with great interest.

Our legislature has enacted laws that forbid me or other health-care professionals from accepting a pen or glazed doughnut from a pharmaceutical representative or other members of the health-care industry.

Missouri lawmakers did this to prevent such paltry gifts from influencing our decision-making. They feared that we might prescribe a drug or implant a device that was not medically necessary as a result of receiving a 50-cent ballpoint pen.

Our medical societies (the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association and others) also support and write guidelines for such ethical behavior. I agree with these ethical guidelines and laws.

The hypocrisy of our legislators is grotesque. If our elected officials can so easily see the effect that a free doughnut can have on a physician’s ethics, why can’t they see how World Series tickets, golf outings and extravagant steak dinners might affect theirs?

L. Brick Rigden, M.D.

Parkville

Great Chiefs season

Thanks to Andy Reid and all the Chiefs for such an exciting season — right to the end. I can’t wait for next year.

A fan forever.

Lorraine Bennetts

Kansas City

Football trauma

In response to the football head-injury lawsuits, repeated head trauma, in many cases, has resulted in chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is a progressively debilitating and life-altering mental condition much like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and frontotemporal dementia.

I have spent time with a family with a spouse and father with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The suffering of the family is indescribable and unrelenting. Wives and children of victims struggle with major decisions, guilt and the heartbreak of their husbands and fathers living out their lives in assisted living facilities.

Rest assured, the “free money” will not be enjoyed by the ex-players. The settlements will undoubtedly cover all of the medical and assisted-living costs that must meet specific needs.

Many facilities will not accept patients with severe mental illnesses like these. Please don’t judge these men who provided hours of entertainment and millions of dollars into the economy through a profession that gave them no indication of the potential of brain injury when they started 20 or 30 years ago.

And just for the record, high school and college players are now being diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Many of these young men may also require ongoing care.

Marjorie Werly

Emporia, Kan.

Guns kill people

The National Rifle Association needs to tell people the truth: Guns do not kill guns. They kill people. Especially assault weapons such as AK-47s.

Richard Lathrom

Kansas City

Fixes for Congress

I suggest three substantial changes that I think would not only fix Congress but also solve many of the challenges of our country.

First, no amendments can be added to any bill unless they are directly related to the original intent or purpose of the bill. That would kill the stupidity of earmarks.

Second, federally fund national elections. Don’t require candidates to be whores to special-interest money. Just suck it up and use federal funds to cover it. In the long run, much more money will be saved because elected officials won’t have to bow to lobbyists and contributors whose only interest is themselves.

Third, no elected officials or member of their staffs can work for lobbyist groups, ever.

Pat Iverson

Prairie Village

Obamacare thanks

I keep hearing about people who have lost their health insurance, citing Obamacare. But are they really losing?

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, the majority of Americans voted to authorize the government to require minimum, and reasonable, safety standards on all vehicles sold in the United States. Good. This is, in part, what we pay taxes for.

Now, let’s say that because of these new standards, sleazy car salespeople could no longer cheat their customers by selling substandard, and potentially dangerous, cars that will break down within a year or so. Also reasonable.

This is what happened when people lost their junk insurance, and many are now blaming the wrong guy.

These “losses” are not President Barack Obama’s fault. It is the sleazebag salespeople who are at fault.

True, Obama should have been more clear about the small percentage of Americans who would lose insurance. But let’s be honest, those canceled policies were dangerous to the public good.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Rebecca Glenn

Raytown

GOP double standard

Add Texas to the list of Republican-controlled state legislatures to pass what are commonly known as voter-suppression restrictions that limit voter registration and turnout.

At the same time, most Republican politicians back the U.S. Supreme Court decision and other judicial rulings permitting wealthy donors to give millions of dollars in support of a candidate or the smearing of an opposing candidate and yet remain anonymous. Is this not at least an ethical contradiction?

If we need to be more restrictive and tighten voter registration, surely those who offer unlimited cash to help determine election outcomes should not be able to do so secretively. They should be as identifiable as those who vote.

Clearly, this is a disappointing Republican double standard.

Harold J. Schultz

Kansas City

Food stamp use

The concern over food stamps can be solved easily. The answer is in the title — food.

Right now, you can go to Wal-Mart and watch the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program card being used for a lot of things. The main concern is that kids are taken care of. No one wants kids to go hungry.

So let’s get back to making food stamps work on kids’ necessities —food. If products match the above description, use the card. If kids can eat the food, adults can eat it as well.

But use food stamps for food and kids’ necessities only. The cash register can be made to reject all other products on these cards.

No politician would dare vote against this application of card use.

Bill Coffman

Lee’s Summit

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